Following last week’s vote in Parliament and the ongoing impasse on Brexit, I thought this an appropriate time to update constituents with my proposed approach.
There is, however, an understandable level of confusion, so I will start with a brief reminder of where we are and how we got here;
How did we get here?
In June 2016, the people of the UK voted in the referendum on the question below. The result in the UK as a whole and of my constituents in Milton Keynes was almost identical; 52% leave and 48% to remain.
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
Since the result I have pledged to do all I can to honour both my constituents and the UK’s wishes to leave the EU.
On March 29th 2017, I supported the Government’s decision to trigger Article 50, the formal notification that the UK would leave the EU on the 29th March 2019.
In 2017, I stood on a manifesto commitment to honour the decision to leave the EU. This was also a commitment made by my Labour and UKIP opponents, meaning that over 93% of people who voted in Milton Keynes North in the 2017 General Election, voted for a party committed to honouring the referendum result and the UK leaving the EU.
Following the election, I supported the European Union (Withdrawal) Act which formally overturned the 1972 Act which led to the UK joining the EU and meant that the UK would leave the EU on the 29th March 2019, with or without a deal.
So what is next?
The default position is that we leave the EU on the 29th March with no deal. I would prefer to leave with a mutually beneficial deal for both the UK and EU, as I think this is in the best interest of our economy and jobs in Milton Keynes. Despite Parliament’s inability to agree last week, I remain convinced that there is potential cross-party consensus for a deal, but all sides must be prepared to compromise and I’m pleased that, as I write, talks are continuing. Whilst it’s deeply disappointing that Jeremy Corbyn refuses to join these discussions, I am pleased that other senior Labour MPs and other Parties are. I am determined to play my part in that process. It is important to remember that whatever Parliament agrees must still be agreed by the EU.
Equally, however, I should be clear that I am prepared to leave with ‘no deal’. I am an optimist and whilst ‘no deal’ would be turbulent, having been involved in the Government’s ‘no deal’ planning, the UK is better placed than the EU to deal with ‘no deal’ and many of the scare stories as to the potential consequences I simply do not believe to be a reality.
So what of the other options being talked about?
Postpone Article 50? In other words delay the UK’s departure. The EU’s default position is they would rather the UK should stay. As I’ve said, I firmly believe that ‘no deal’ is worse for the EU than the UK for a whole variety of reasons (both financial and politically) and as things stand today the threat of a looming ‘no deal’ remains the biggest bargaining chip in getting them to agree a mutually beneficial deal.
Another People’s Vote? We had a people’s vote in 2016. They voted to leave. I have already mentioned that 93% of my constituents voted at the 2017 General Election for a party that pledged to honour that result. Even if an appropriate question could be formulated and agreed by all, which I doubt, independent advice says it would take 15 months to pass legislation and potentially return us to exactly where we are today.
Now is not the time to prevaricate or delay, now is the time to unite and get on with it.
I fully appreciate not all will agree with my approach. What I would say to those who don’t, is at this critical time in our history I am taking the time to consider, understand and respect all aspects of this debate. I can assure you I will use my very best judgement in the coming days and weeks.